In this month of love (being February) I can hear the howls of protest from many an individual as they scarper to warmer climes, (or just anywhere else) to avoid participating in Valentine’s Day.
I have my own personal rules regarding the day in question – I call it Anti-Valentine’s – but that’s for another story and those of you with a stronger constitution than most.
To change perspective a little, I skipped along the web looking for romantic tales/rituals involving water, splashing merrily as I do. I found some truly lovely practices and rituals, but the nicest, by far, was sent to me by our co-ordinator extraordinaire, Michelle. As we‘re very invested in charities, as with The Africa Trust, which provides safe drinking water to people throughout Africa, I thought that this was quite fitting:-
It’s a folk tale from Kenya called The Fire on the Hill:
Long, long ago, there was a lake of cold water in Kenya. Many animals came at night to the lake to drink some water. But people never came to the lake at night. The animals could kill and eat them. Now, a rich man who had a beautiful daughter once said, “The young man, who will go to the lake in the evening and stay in the cold water till morning, will have my daughter for his wife.”
There lived a poor young man who loved the rich man’s daughter very much. He said to his mother, “I shall try to stay all night in the lake and then marry my dear girl.”
“No, No,” the mother said, “you are my only son! The water in the lake is very cold and the animals will eat you up. Don’t go there!”
She cried and cried. But her son said, “Mother, don’t cry. I must try. I love her so much!” So the young man went to the girl’s father. He told him that he wanted to go to the lake and stay in the cold water all night. The rich man sent his servants to a place where they could watch the young man.
When night came, the young man went to the lake and his mother followed him. But he did not see her. There was a hill forty paces away from the place where the young man went into the water. The woman climbed up the hill and made a fire there. The wild animals saw the fire and were afraid to go near that place.
The young man saw the fire, too. He understood that his mother was there. He thought of his mother’s love and it was easier for him to stay all night in the very cold water. Morning came. The young man went to the rich man’s house. The rich man saw him and said, “My servants say that there was a fire on a hill forty paces from the lake. It warmed you and that is why you could stay all night in the water. So you cannot marry my daughter. Good-bye.”
The young man was very angry. He went to the judge. “Well,” the judge said, “this is a very simple case.”
The next morning the young man with his mother and the rich man with his servants came before the Judge. There were many people there who wanted to hear the case. The judge asked for a pot of cold water. Then he walked forty paces from the pot and made a fire.
“Now,” he said, “we shall wait a little until the water is warm.”
The people cried, “But the fire is so far away, it cannot warm the water in the pot.”
Then the judge said, “And how could that young man warm himself at a fire forty paces away?”
So the case was over and the young man married the rich man’s daughter. They lived happily for many years.
Now I’m sure your swain is not expecting you to take a dip in an icy pond at the common to prove their worth this February, but as far as grand romantic gestures go, this is pretty impressive. Think about it before you go off and spend your hard earned dosh on some screaming pink, polyester-haired teddy.